'Abortion pill' Mifegymiso slowly available in Canada

29 years after the 'abortion pill' debuted in Europe, the drug combination known as, Mifegymiso, is finally available in Canada. Though the distributor says it's received just three orders for the medication so far.

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A year and a half after Health Canada approved the sale of Mifegymiso, the abortion-inducing medication is now available at a few clinics in this country.

Celopharma, the Canadian distributor of Mifegymiso, says it has shipped out the drug to three clinics located in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

The company couldn't explain why it has received so few orders despite the publicity surrounding the long-awaited availability of the medication.

Mifegymiso is a two-step abortion process, which involves taking separate medications: mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone; misoprostol induces a miscarriage.

In Canada, it's approved for use by women in the first seven weeks of pregnancy.

Despite appearing on the World Health Organization's "List of Essential Medicines," Health Canada only received an application for approval from the manufacturer in 2012. It took the federal agency three years to approve the drug, an unusually long time.

Celopharma says it's now applied to Health Canada to approve the use of the drug for up to nine weeks, as it is in other countries.

The company is also asking the agency to allow pharmacists to dispense Mifegymiso to patients directly like other prescription drugs, instead of requiring physicians to dispense it.